Consuming Passion: 100 Years of Mills & Boon, BBC4

Did we like it?
We found this drama about the Mills & Boon phenomenon to be ravishing with beautiful, voluptuous plots and dashing, courageous performances.

What was good about it?
• Splicing three plots from different eras can’t have been an easy task, but Consuming Passions pulled it off with consummate ease, with joy and pain stretching from the early 20th century to the present day.
• Olivia Colman was heart-wrenchingly brilliant as awkward 1970s spinster Janet Bottomley squeezed into purple hotpants and a horrible job and a horrible life with a miserable mother but breaks free by reading, then writing, Mills & Boon romantic yarns under the pseudonym of Raquel Pretty.
• Emilia Fox was also pretty good as a university English lecturer, trying to find worthwhile things to say about Mills & Boon and falling for a passionate student stud while her husband makes perfect sauces and frets about property prices at home.
• Seeing the evolution of the Mills & Boon publishing house from small beginnings to a worldwide success, churning out the same stories over and over, with slight variations in hero to suit the age (strong brutes have made way for new men, with dusky lotharios and sensitive blondes in between).
• Patrick Baladi played a troubled doctor with arrogant perfection; OT Fagbenie, an actor whose abilities we have doubted in the past, was convincing as the student, flashing his torso and seducing his teacher; and Daniel Mays was lovable as Charles Boon, the publisher of romantic fiction who was incapable of the simplest romantic touch in her marriage to the lovely Mary.
• Shameless writer Emma Frost mixed comedy with tragedy without any jarring edges.

What was bad about it?

• This deserved to be a series. After 105 minutes, we wanted more.

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